Lasers, Dragons, and Keyboards Podcast

Sci-fi, fantasy, and writing–who could ask for more?

LDK 75 – CONTEST WINNER! Kayla (K.M.) Dailey

We sit down with physics teacher by day, thriller author by night, Kayla–K.M.–Dailey this episode. K.M. is the winner of our flash short story contest with Laura VanArendonk Baugh to write a short story featuring Samwise Gamgee (LOTR) and River Song (Doctor Who.) K.M.’s story had us in stitches, and we’re sure you’ll see why we picked the story as our winner.

We talk about our Harry Potter houses, Kayla’s inspiration for the short story, Christmas trees out of books, Liberty admits to having lower standards in her reading, the ever-present need for more bookcases, Harry Dresden, the new doctor on Doctor Who and Kayla’s and Liberty’s concerns about the direction, Doctor Who indoctrination (no pun intended!), Kayla’s goal of 100 rejections in 2018 (!!!), Captain America…or Captain Jack Sparrow?

Find out more about Kayla on her YouTube channel.

Kayla’s book recommendations:

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu

And now, K.M.’s short story, Alien Artifact.


The alarm bells of the TARDIS chimed as the console room lurched.  River’s diary flew from her hands.  She jumped up.

“No, no, no!” the doctor shouted, fumbling with the controls.

“I told you, didn’t I?” River grabbed the blue levers to stablize the console room—still, it quaked violently.  “Always double check the navigation circuits before entering conceptual space!”

“It’s not the nagivation, we’re being diverted!”  The doctor flipped a few switches, and an explosion of smoke erupted from the console.


“Into a pocket universe—”  A jolt sent the doctor flying toward the metal rails.

“I’m going to land her!” River shouted.

The old familiar squealing of the TARDIS brakes sounded.  Finally, all was still.

The doctor pulled himself upright and straightened his bow tie.

“Scanners online.”  River swung the video screen to face herself.

He buzzed the console with his sonic screwdriver.  “The TARDIS was drawn to a powerful alien . . . thingy.  Where exactly are we?”

Black, rocky structures surrounded them on either side, stretching up to the dark, clouded sky.  Just ahead stood a crumbling stone tower, ominous spikes protruding from its ceilings and walls, and large armored men with gray, distorted features stood guard.  Orcs.

River’s heart pounded in her chest.  Why would the TARDIS have drawn her back to Middle Earth?

“Stay here, Doctor, I’ve got to handle this.”

She darted out of the TARDIS and nearly ran headlong into a scraggly-haired man half her height.  A hobbit.

He whipped out a glowing blue sword and pointed it at her chest.

“Who goes there?”  His voice trembled almost as much as his sword.

River took her screwdriver out of her pocket and scanned the sword.  It was alien, certainly, but not dangerous.  It wouldn’t have diverted the TARDIS.

“Who are you, lady?”  Sam raised the sword to her neck.

“Oh, put that away, you’re going to hurt yourself.  Name’s River Song.  What’s yours?”

“I—Sam Gamgee.”  He swallowed.  “You’re not an orc, are you?”

“Human.  Well, more or less.  Listen, Sam—”

Two of the orcs from the tower came running toward them.  River whipped the blaster out of her pocket and shot down both of them over Sam’s head.  Sam cowered, dropping his sword, then whirled around, gaping at the fallen bodies.

Breathing hard, he turned to face River.  “Can you help me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Mister Frodo’s been taken—he’s in that tower.”  He pointed behind himself.  “I’ve got to save him.  If I could just borrow your—whatever that is—”

His eyes were on River’s blaster.

She shoved it back into her pocket.  “What are orcs doing kidnapping Hobbits?”

“We were heading to Mount Doom to destroy this.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a chain.  A familiar dull golden ring hung from the end.

“Oh, I see.  This is my fault,” she said.

Your fault?”  Sam lowered the ring.

“Sauron and I.  We used to date.  He was planning to propose, even ordered the materials for the ring from another world.  He was quite cross when I broke things off.  Went a bit power crazy, to be honest.”

Sam stared at her for a long time, his brow quizzical.  Finally, he pointed to the TARDIS.  “Can your blue box get us to Mount Doom?”

“Ah.”  River’s face felt warm.  “I’d rather not run into Sauron.  But if you’re looking to destroy the ring, we’ve got a decaying star in the TARDIS.  It should do the trick.”

Sam glanced from the ring in his hands to the TARDIS.  “You have a star in that box?”


Convincing the Doctor to allow Sam into the TARDIS core was no easy matter, but it was nothing compared with dealing with Sam’s outburst at the dimensional folding.

“It’s bigger—bigger—”

“On the inside, yes, it’s very impressive.  Let’s get on with it, shall we?”

“But—but how—”  Sam cringed in the doorway, looking back and forth from the blue exterior to the console room.

“You still have to save your friend, don’t you?”

This seemed to harden Sam’s resolve.  His jaw set, he stepped into the console room.  “Lead the way, Mrs. River Song.”

She’d been Doctor Song for years, but decided against correcting him.  Every now and then, she checked to make sure he was still trailing behind her.  He always was, though his eyes darted in all directions and he kept his sword in his hand.

Finally, they arrived at the TARDIS power center—the Eye of Harmony.  The enormous glowing star hung suspended in midair.

Sam reached again into his pocket and took out the ring.  With a cry, he flung the ring into the dying star.

For just a moment, the star flashed a more brilliant shade of orange.

“That’s it?” Sam said.  “It’s over?”

“It’s over.”

His face broke out into a grin.  “Mrs. River Song, how can I ever repay you?”

“Repay me?  That ring was a great source of power.  It’ll save us a fuel stop.  Consider us even.”

“I’ve got to save Mister Frodo,” Sam said.  “But maybe we’ll meet again someday?”

“We’ll see,” River said.  “It’s one thing to be diverted by an alien artifact, but as a general rule, one does not simply land a TARDIS in Mordor.”


The orc snarled as he raised his sword.  Frodo struggled against his bonds, but to no avail.  This was it, this was the end—

The Orc stopped short, shouting, as the tip of a glowing blue sword jabbed through its chest.

“Sam!” Frodo cried.

The orc dropped.  Sam smiled down at Frodo.

Guilt weighed upon Frodo’s chest.  “Oh, Sam, I’m so sorry!”

“Let’s get you out of here.” Sam took hold of the ropes binding Frodo’s hands.

“It’s too late.”  Frodo sat up.  “It’s over.  They’ve taken it.  Sam—” he stared intently into Sam’s eyes— “they took the ring.”

Sam took a deep breath.  “We need to talk.”

The End

LDK 73/74: Don’t Ask Permission to Create Art (with H.L. Burke)

This week we have hopeless romantic, H.L. (Heidi) Burke on the show. She’s totally obsessed with dragons, but we know a few people who also are, so we won’t hold it against her.

In episode 73:

  • We discuss the Eros & Psyche myth again (see Laura VAB’s recent episode for more E&P!) as H.L.’s book, Coiled, is based on the myth.
  • Heidi’s desire to go “aww” while writing.
  • How we have to release our books to the world and they become a part of the world instead of ours.
  • Myths are out of copyright—we can plagiarize them!
  • Can snakes get sea sick?
  • Star Trek rants!
  • Re-reading on Goodreads
  • Myers Briggs analysis of characters


In episode 74:

  • The evolution of a pantser to a plotter
  • Guess which of Heidi’s offspring might be a future Bond villain!
  • Lyrics in music? Yes or no?
  • The adventures of being a military wife
  • Why Heidi doesn’t think she’s a very deep person.
  • Working with an editor when you’ve been self-published first
  • How Sarah picks her release dates
  • Aaron warns new authors about vanity presses
  • Who is Theodore??





LDK 72 – Andrew Winch

We have Andrew Winch on this week, who is the executive editor with Splickety Publishing group where he’s worked with a whole host of authors including Jerry B. Jenkins, Tosca Lee, and Robert Liparulo. He’s a full time physical therapist when he’s not running around with Ben Wolf.

In this episode:

  • Google is a wonderful thing. 😉
  • Who is Ben Wolflichman?
  • Wrangling flaming pigs
  • Gothic horror / steampunk
  • Weird stuff submitted to Splickety (hint: did you guess frog erotica?)
  • Andrew’s love of creepy stuff
  • Don’t edit your voice out of your story!!!
  • Is writing flash fiction a perfectionist’s game?
  • What 3 tips would Andrew give to improve your writing?
  • Why you should read women’s fiction.
  • You have to write a great story.
  • Supporting characters Andrew wants to know more about!


LDK 71 – The Magic of Lorehaven

In this episode, we sit down with E. Stephen Burnett, who, along with Ben Wolf (see episodes 10 & 11), is the co-founder of the forthcoming e-magazine, Lorehaven.

Stephen is a former print journalist who now helps run and other faith-based websites that focus on fiction–including Lorehaven. He hails from Texas.

In episode 71:

  • What Lorehaven is–and what it won’t be.
  • What is a flash review?
  • Stephen’s favorite version of Star Trek.
  • Lorehaven’s goal to create book clubs.
  • The broader content goals of Lorehaven.
  • Who should everyone be reading?
  • What is Stephen watching? Wonder Woman? Anime?



LDK 69/70 – Paul D. Smith

On this episode, we have Paul Smith, friend of previous guests, CW Briar and Jon Brhel. He’s author of Jason and the Draconauts!

Paul Smith lives in upstate New York with his wife and two sons, where he works with emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children. He earned a master’s degree in social sciences from Binghamton University in 1999. A lifelong love of science fiction, fantasy, and superhero stories influences Paul’s writing. His most recent work was a popular weekly online series that generated over 20,000 views. Jason and the Draconauts is his first novel.

In Episode 69:

  • Writing for your kids
  • Creating dragons! Who’s going to argue with a dragon?
  • D&D’s influence in Paul’s writing
  • How to NOT plagiarise
  • Aaron wants to read a story about Captain America riding a dragon
  • Does the TARDIS have a loading bay?
  • Black Ops Helicopters
  • Sean Connery

In Episode 70:

  • The pitfalls of pantsing
  • The guys give Liberty a hard time for ditching her outline
  • Liberty keeps bringing up Scrivener…
  • Bluetooth keyboards!
  • Why reading out loud is an important editing tool.
  • Paul’s techniques for battling writer’s block and why he hates frustration.
  • Paul’s thoughts on conventions and selling books on them.
  • Whether FB ads are worth the paper they’re printed on…
  • Including fandom quotes in our books!
  • What do your books teach you in the course of the writing?
  • Get words on paper



LDK 67/68 – Alara’s Call & Kristen Stieffel

This week, we have Kristen Stieffel, author of the debut novel, Alara’s Call.

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance writer and editor specializing in science fiction and fantasy. She’s the associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on the speculative genres. Kristen provides author mentoring and a full range of editorial services in multiple genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket. Kristen is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection and is a Word Weavers International mentor.

In Episode 67:

  • Kristen’s impetus for writing Alara’s Call.
  • How President Dwight Eisenhower factors in to Kristen’s book.
  • Kristen admits how long it took to write the book.
  • How her setting was designed to fit the story.
  • Mentor characters yelling at the main character’s father!
  • How long does it take to cremate a horse? (Aaron isn’t telling PETA.)
  • We get into an argument about Kristen’s favorite spec fic quote.
  • Aaron refrains from going full über-nerd! (We’re all grateful.)

In Episode 68:

  • Plotting! Pantsing! Who knows?! Start with the end in mind.
  • He said WHAT?!
  • Writing out of order.
  • How do you K.O. a piece of paper?
  • All hail the wonders of Scrivener!
  • How MCs can change in the course of the book.
  • Hurricane brain
  • Write through the crap!
  • Snacking! Tea!
  • Bollywood!
  • Classical Crossover music
  • Kristen’s longest trip for a writer’s conference.
  • Why do people complain about book prices?
  • Gotta have the big parts in your novel first.

Kristen’s Facebook Party (9/21/2017)


LDK 65/66 – Sarah White

We sat down with the delightful Sarah White, author of Halayda, but Josh couldn’t join us. So it was up to Liberty to rein in Aaron! Or does he have to rein her in? Hmmm…

Sarah Delena White writes epic fantasy, steampunk, and reworkings of mythology with complex characters, rich world-building, and a fine balance of poetry and snark. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She occasionally remembers to eat and sleep, because those things are apparently important. She can be bribed with dark chocolate. Halayda is her debut novel.

In Episode 65:

  • Sarah keeps very busy!
  • Halayda‘s unique blend of subgenres and unique beginnings
  • Yes, this is a kissing book!
  • Sarah’s research into Scottish & Irish faeries
  • More questionable search histories!
  • Aaron’s rabbit trail about the difference between the Russian space program and NASA
  • Liberty’s rabbit trail about Apollo 13
  • Short word counts vs. long word counts!

In Episode 66:

  • Normally, we have rabbit trails. But this week, we have rabbit AND chicken trails! (That sounds worse than it is…)
  • Plotting v pantsing … and having a point she’s working toward
  • Deleted/bonus scenes!
  • Sarah’s use of a certain social media platform in her research
  • The necessity of the right brand of Earl Grey tea.
  • Twitter Hashtag Games!
  • Irish folklore & ARROW



THE LOST EPISODES! LDK 54 & 55 — Deanna Fugett

This week, we talk with Deanna Fugett (not to be confused with Deanna Troi). We get right into it with a discussion about oddly named characters, and where some of these names come from (don’t ask…)

Next, because this is a speculative fiction show, we talk at length about Little House on the Prairie (Of course…) Liberty wasn’t around this week to steer us back on track… (because she spontaneously combusted… well, that’s our story, anyway…)

We eventually got back on track (kind of…), and learned that Josh loves depressing endings (Aaron can’t stand them…)

Who’s Deanna’s favorite super hero? Is it Green Arrow? Super Grover? You’ll have to listen to find out.

Does Deanna prefer Scrivener? Word? Pen? Crayon?

We also take a quick break to provide a public service announcement of things computers don’t like (such as hammers and crumbs…)

Lingo 101… We’re thinking of making this a regular feature…

And last, but not least, being eaten alive (metaphorically…)

Some of Deanna’s favorite authors:
– Liberty
– Aaron
– Josh (he’s almost done…)
– Lynn Austin, who writes historical fiction/romance. She has a really good series set in the Civil War (U.S. History, not Marvel, sadly) that does a good job of showing the conflict and motivation from both sides. (Also, if you like history, check out “Across Five Aprils”)

Deanna thinks critique groups are pretty darn important. We think so too!

Extrovert shadowing!


Episode 54
Episode 55



LDK 63 & 64 – The Heir with Avily Jerome

After a way-too-long hiatus from publishing, we’re finally getting back into the swing of things! On this episode of the show, recorded WAAAAAY back in the spring (we won’t bring up Liberty’s scheduling/production issues), we have with us the one and only Avily Jerome. We know Avily from the Realm Maker’s conference, where she sometimes body-doubles President Donald Trump. But she’s also an amazingly talented author who wrote The Heir. As you’ll find out, Avily likes to laugh as much as we do, and her snarky brand of humor was a great fit with your hosts’ funny bones.

In Episode 63:

  • Avily’s book, The Heir, and her serial The Amulet Saga.
  • Avily’s favorite character, and that character’s role.
  • Josh’s TBR list grows to over 2,000.
  • How people in Avily’s life have responded to her art.
  • Christians don’t have to write strictly Christian characters.
  • Changing settings and how they change the story.
  • Avily’s favorite scenes in books.

In Episode 64:

  • Plotting or pantsing…and how her research affects this.
  • Steve Irwin…Mermaid Hunter…
  • Crazy NaNo+ word counts
  • Avily and her organizational methods
  • My Evil Mermaid
  • How Avily deals with writer’s block
  • Dealing with people who don’t like what you write.
  • Develop a thick skin.
  • Darkside Cookies

As discussed in the show:


LDK 62 – Laura VanArendonk Baugh

This week, we hang out with second-time guest, Laura VanArendonk Baugh (try saying that one three times fast!) We last visited with Laura in episodes 39 & 40 (which you can find here). Last time we spoke, we discussed her Japanese culture books. But this time, she takes us to a different culture altogether with The Songweaver’s Vow, which is a retelling of Ares and Psyche, but in the Norwegian culture rather than Greek.

In this episode:

    • Laura’s unique view on fiction
    • Laura’s upcoming trilogy…that she may or may not be working on…an epic fantasy. (Angst porn!)
    • Laura’s research in Denmark. Nine months of winter and mead!
    • Laura’s take on Greek and Norse mythology.
    • Having a reader warning on her books.
    • On writing Loki.
    • Who would Laura go on a quest with?

Greek mythology is all about people having sex. Norse mythology is all about people on LSD. ~ Laura VAB


Laura VanArendonk Baugh
The Songweaver’s Vow

Details on our contest!

Our first ever contest!

Write a 1,000 or less fan fiction featuring Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings fame) and River Song (Doctor Who with David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi). PG-13 rating max. You can put them in whatever scenario or world you want and whatever other characters you want as long as you feature them.


E-book of The Songweaver’s Vow.
E-book or Audible of Liberty Speidel’s Omission.
E-book of Aaron DeMott’s A New Threat.
An opportunity to come on the show and talk about whatever you want to talk about, plus read your winning short story.

Deadlines and contact:

E-mail your polished story in standard manuscript format (12-point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, double-spaced) to no later than September 5th, 2017. Winner will be announced on an upcoming episode of the show and selected by the hosts and Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Timeframe on when winner will be selected depends on number of entries. We will e-mail you back to confirm receipt of your story. Please put “Sam & River” in the subject line.



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